A redemptive tale of near-death on some soul-warping drugs in a bath-tub in northern Spain is always, I find, a good start to an interview.
“My girlfriend and I visited Bilbao in 2000 for Aste Nagusia, the nine day street festival at the end of August,” Tom Dunne, Byronic ex singer with The Spikes, begins. “It was amazing.” Please don’t try this at home. Tom was a professional libertine. . .
“My appetite to challenge the boundaries of this reality led me to taking a hit of the wrong kind of ‘craic’ outside our hotel one night on the way back from a day’s heavy drinking. The folly of youth! Luckily, my girlfriend managed to drag me back into the hotel — and noticing that I was on fire she bundled me into the bath and got as much freezing cold water running over me as she could.”
“But,” he continues, “I was coughing up a black tar-like substance; very soon I was unable to breath because I was choking on this stuff. And then I was gone — into the darkness. I saw no light, just serene darkness of a void. It was very peaceful.”
About a minute later. Tom “came back with a big gasp of air which absolutely scared the life out of my girlfriend who was bawling on the floor thinking I was dead as there was no pulse. I had gone. It was no fun for her but she saved my life. And I’ll never forget that.”
“I didn’t see the light,” he continues. Tom adds much later that he does “believe in the light” generally.
Dunne is not so much a man on the road to a beautiful madness, as someone who has arrived there, bought a property, painted it, and is renting out the upstairs rooms. And I mean that as a compliment.
His every fibre seems to vibrate with an out-of-kilter shamanistic energy that is hard to define, other than to say it is equal parts Jim and Van Morrison.
Ask him about inspiration for Surrender My Love — the first single from his forthcoming EP Into Unknown due in March; with a second single Kosmic Eye scheduled for release next month — Hamburg-based Dunne says: “The song was inspired by the comings and going between the various masks we all wear in life. It’s a story of duality, the conflict between the ego and the soul. In the end, no matter what the ego does it will always surrender to the higher aspects of love.”
What goes through Tom’s head when he sings Surrender My Love?
“Not too much,” he says, “I try to observe myself from above or below when I sing. And from there paint pictures of the scenes from the lyrics or replay the imprints I received when the song first came through.”
And what goes through his head generally ?
“To be honest I try and keep my head-noise as quite as possible.. We are subjected to so much information today that in order to be autonomous I have thought myself to block it all out and shift my conscience to a more heart-based existence. Simple ancient techniques allow humans to do this ! I keep things in the up-spiral.”
At this stage, perhaps, many of you are wondering what kind of man is The Bilbao Bath Tub Troubadour.
“Authentic. Creative. Positive. Loving, Compassionate. Fearless. Energetic. Mystical. Truth-seeking, Ancient. Galactic.”
The next morning I get a private message from Tom on Facebook: “You might change the word ‘Galactic’ to ‘Multi-dimensional’ in the kind of person I am. I just had a very multi-dimensional dream.” (Why am I not surprised?)
In Dublin to record Neil Young's Southern Man for The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie, Tom continues that he has been “visualising some really cool stuff for my future and the future of humanity. It’s good to want to better humanity in some way; to enlighten the world a little more. Maybe when I grow up I’ll get into politics because something has to change there. It stinks with all this global corruption. It can be very difficult down here on earth as there are so many varying degrees of vibrational levels of humans. I would love to see a total planetary shift to a higher state of being. It’s mind-numbing to me that humans are so evil towards each other.”
“All the bullshit the various factions of humanity has built up to justify its acts is exactly that: bullshit. None of it is real. It’s all illusion to maintain power. Such a waste of such a precious gift. Life !”
Since he’s on a roll, I ask Tom about the past.
“The past,” he says, “is pivotal to unlocking our true potential. Every incarnation experience we have ever had in this universe and others is permanently imprinted on our soul and is accessible to us through meditation and regression. All our questions have been answered before. I believe it’s just a matter of going deep inside and connecting to your soul where the past, present and future all exist simultaneously. We never evolve if we continue to ignore the lessons of our past.”
To watch the full interview with Tom Dunne, plus two exclusive performances, see The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie. You can also watch the sessions on TG4.